The Maroons will travel to Wash U’s campus in St. Louis this Friday to face off against Brandeis in the first matchup of the UAA championship tournament. The South Siders are coming off of an impressive regular season, touting a record of 17–9. Even more impressive is their conference record: Chicago has managed to stay undefeated within the UAA conference throughout this entire season, earning them the No. 1 seed going into this weekend.
Chicago began their undefeated run at the beginning of October during the UAA Round Robin #1, during which they defeated Brandeis, No. 16 Carnegie Mellon, and No. 15 Wash U. Their success continued two weeks later during the second leg of the Round Robin, during which they defeated NYU, No. 6 Emory, Rochester, and Case Western Reserve. The three wins against top 25 competitors were the Maroons’ only wins against teams of that caliber this season.
Although the South Siders were victorious against Brandeis in last year’s Round Robin as well, their No. 1 ranking within the conference is indeed an unfamiliar position. Last year, the Maroons suffered losses to Wash U, Case Western Reserve, Carnegie Mellon, and Emory during the regular season and finished in fourth place at the UAA Championships. With this in mind, the Maroons seem to be approaching this weekend with a sense of cautious optimism.
“Basically we feel very confident going into this weekend. We are very familiar with how each team plays in the UAA, so we are pretty much ready for anything,” said third-year outside hitter Frances McDonald.
“Our practices this week will just be focused on getting contacts and reps and then scrimmaging just to make sure we feel confident this weekend,” she continued. “We are particularly trying to focus on closing matches, which we have struggled with our few past games, and winning the serve pass game against the teams we will play for the UAA Championship.”
Fourth-year middle hitter Katie LaPorte echoed her teammate’s sentiments. “We are so stoked to be going into conference championships in the position that we are in. Obviously it puts a target on our back and some pressure maybe we haven't felt before, but it also helps us have faith and believe that we can do it,” she said. “We just have to respect the game and every opponent and play at the highest level we can. We need to leave it all out on the floor—you never know what happens [in the] postseason.”
Although they will face some stiff competition should they advance to the later rounds of the tournament, the quarterfinal match against No. 8 Brandeis this Friday should be an easy victory for the Maroons. Chicago’s matchup against Brandeis during the Round Robin #1 was the Maroons’ most decisive victory of the entire tournament. In an impressive performance, the Maroons defeated the Judges by a wide margin of 3–0.
Chicago’s match against Brandeis will be held at Wash U’s campus on Friday, November 4 at noon CDT. If the Maroons are victorious against Brandeis, they will go on to play the winner of the Carnegie Mellon/Rochester game at 4 p.m. that same day.